Monthly Archives: May 2016

Singing When You Are Sick – Five Tips to Help You

It happens to many of us. Especially around the cold and flu season. It may be hard to talk when you have a cold or the flu, but can you imagine how difficult it would be to sing in front of a crowd of people when you are sick?

This article will hopefully help you and give you tips on how to preserve your voice when you are sick and you have to sing on stage.

  1. This may sound obvious, but it is by far the most important thing you can do for your throat and vocal chords. And that is to rest. The night before your singing performance, try to get a good night’s sleep. And it might also help to take a nap before your performance. This is because sleep can help to heal your vocal chords. Resting your voice also means to try to limit talking throughout the day and up until your performance. Only talk when you need to.
  1. If you are a singer who has performed regularly on stage, then you most likely would already be in the habit of doing vocal warm up exercises before your performance and vocal warm down exercises after your performance. These exercises are so important as they help you to strengthen your voice and will help you to hit those high notes. However, when you are sick, you will need to spend more time doing your vocal warm ups and warm downs. This will help to avoid any damage to your voice and vocal chords.
  1. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Water can ease the itchiness in your throat. I always find that warm water with a couple of slices of lemon in it can help soothe my throat when I am sick. And this will help you to lessen the amount of coughing during the day. I also find that when you have a coughing fit and you can’t stop coughing, then take a cough lozenge. This will help to coat your throat so that it is not so itchy and will help ease your coughing fit. Another good thing to do when you are on stage is to take a bottle of water with you on the stage so that you can take some sips of water in between songs.
  1. Try not to over extend your voice. I would advise you to change your song choice if you have a challenging song to sing. This is because when you are sick, your voice is not in best condition and so you will not be able to hit those super high notes. So I recommend you choose songs that you are comfortable singing where you know you will definitely hit each note perfectly.
  1. My last tip that I have for you is to not panic. Imagine this, you wake up in the morning of your performance and discover that you have a sore throat. You ears might be hurting and you basically don’t feel well. What would most people do? Panic! But you must try your best to not panic. Don’t worry. The worst thing that can happen is that you miss a few notes. But if you are panicking on stage, then your anxiety will only exacerbate your sore throat and you will sing even worse than you should. If you are extremely sick then maybe you will have to call off your performance. I know that is a disappointing and extreme decision to make. But keep your spirits high because you will always have the chance to sing again when your voice has healed.

I hope that these tips will help to ease your mind about singing when you are sick. Depending on the severity of your cold or flu, you still may be able to make an outstanding performance. So next time you are sick and you have to sing, remember the above tips and you will be able to do your best and hopefully “knock their socks off!”

Rockstars, Singer/Songwriters and Inspirational Music

I remember going to a U2 concert in Southern France many years ago. Somehow I worked my way up towards the front of the muddy mosh pit. I could almost see Bono’s sweat drip off of his amazing face. WOW! The tour was ‘The Joshua Tree’ album. This was the beginning of my love for rockstars. I would then fall for Robert Smith of ‘The Cure’. Songs like ‘Pictures of You’ from ‘Disintegration’ pulled me into a beautiful reverie and I thus became an official poet.

Kate Bush soon crept into my favorite box. Although she is/was not really a rocker, she was this incredible artist who shook me to the core. From ‘The Dreaming’ to ‘The Sensual World’, I was completely hooked. Her song ‘Lily’ intrigued me in terms of the seeming witchcraft she used. ‘You’re the One’ was so beautiful as many of her songs. I think I related to the crazy love she felt for her beloved. After listening to her for a few years, I begin singing. But, I would only sing when I was alone, I never dreamed of singing to anyone else. That would come years later.

Ozzy Osbourne came into my awareness also around the late 80’s. He was such a different style than Kate or Bono (Robert Smith kinda fit in though… ). I could not really put myself into a box in terms of ‘rocker’, ‘goth chick’ or ‘folkster’. I think I fell in love with it all. ‘Diary of a Madman’ was now an anthem to me. Unfortunately, I was a troubled teen and I tried to kill myself while listening to the music. I really don’t think the music had much to do with it. It was just a reflection of a sadness I felt inside. I still love Ozzy, I think he is a genius and his music will live on forever.

Fast forward to Tori Amos… instant love! I think it was the piano and ethereal voice that drew me in as it also reminded me a little bit of Kate. She is so unusual and her lyrical content is so wild. The song ‘Little Earthquakes’ from the album with the same name blew me away. I think it’s her voice too that just communicates passion like no other.

Playing the Guitar – How to Play Fast

Learning to play something new on the guitar, whether it is slow or fast, involves teaching your brain to move your fingers in some new way. The goal is to teach your brain to be able to play this new piece without you having to think about it. This is a very important point. But before we start, if the passage you want to learn is long, you need to break it up into pieces that are relatively short. A passage can almost always be split up into shorter pieces. You learn each piece individually, and string them all together in the end.

So how do you train your brain to play something ‘automatically’? In order to achieve this, you start slow. You slow way down. Be sure to tap your foot or use a metronome to keep the beat. You need to make a point to keep the beat and play the piece in time, because if you don’t, your brain will get accustomed to playing it that way and you have just wasted a lot of effort.

Slow down and play it.

If you make a mistake, stop, and play the piece from the start. Again, we don’t want to teach the brain to play with a mistake in it, because it will be hard to get rid of once you have played it a couple of times.

Keep on playing the piece, at the same slow pace, until you can play it without making a mistake. Done it? Now play it again. And play it again. Play it until you can play it without mistakes at least 5 times in a row. You are teaching your brain to play this new pattern of notes. Try not to think about the individual notes. Focus instead on certain `trigger’ notes, for example, the note that lands on the first beat or third beat. Literally let your fingers play the rest.

Once you can do this it’s time to speed it up. Speed it up slowly. Play the piece at this faster pace. If you have to think about the individual notes, you are playing too fast: slow down again.

Now you repeat this process of playing at a certain pace, guiding yourself on trigger notes, letting your fingers do the work, and increasing the tempo when you can play the piece without mistakes, automatically, until you reach the desired tempo. By that time you will have trained your brain this new pattern of notes and you can play it, without error, at an amazing pace, without having to think about it.

Relaxing Rock Songs

Panic stricken? Dead tired? Extremely anxious? Having difficulty sleeping? Head is swimming? No peace inside? Want an out? Listen to music!

Music is considered to be an essential measure for relaxation. Many therapists use music as treatment. Mostly classical music is the prescribed medicine, but that doesn’t need to be a necessity.

Below are 10 songs by rock bands and artists which have an intensely soothing effect on the nerves and will make you feel at peace.

1. Imagine – John Lennon

Much doesn’t need to be said about what this song does to the listener. Live in Utopia for a while, and you’ll get what is desired by all (and what John philosophized) – peace!

2. Perfect Day – Lou Reed

A lazy, melodious track. It may have been written about heroin, but that doesn’t mean it cannot work wonders for the sane mind. When facing problems or overwhelmed, just slow down. Give it some time and let it go. Escape for a while!

3. Big D’s Touch – Buckethead

One of the most relaxing tunes to come out of Buckethead’s fingers is this instrumental. Let it touch you. It will make you want to lie down, and just stay like that forever.

4. I Talk to the Wind – King Crimson

King Crimson takes you on a trip that makes you see all that is going around in the world. Let them. Feel the dreamy music and take a moment to reflect on yourself.

5. Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce

Incorporating the harpsichord in the song was a masterstroke by Croce. While the wavy music washes over you, you can imagine all the things that you could do if you save just a little bit of time. Savvy, isn’t it?

6. Grantchester Meadows – Pink Floyd

Bird chirps, lazy guitar tunes, soothing voices, and words speaking about nature, this song will transport you into a pastoral enclave surrounded by birds, animals, trees, rivers, where you can laze around in the sun. In one word, bliss!

7. Why Worry – Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler tells in his soothing golden voice not to worry, because there is always good after bad, light after dark and such. Take things lightly, and relax! So indeed, why worry?

8. Black Mountain Side – Led Zeppelin

Inspired by Irish folk song “Down by Blackwaterside”, this Indian classical influenced instrumental shows why Jimmy Page is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He simulated the sound of the sitar on an acoustic guitar and Viram Jasani played the tabla. The song takes one into a pleasant, delusional, otherworldly dimension.

9. Summer Daze – Slowdive

This song, by one of the better shoe-gazing bands, is an induced dream. The music moves in and out of the mind, leaving the listener in a trance and almost lulls him to sleep.

10. Asleep – The Smiths

The song is interpreted to be about suicide, but on a very simple note, it also means wanting to fall asleep and not waking up for a long time. After being absolutely exhausted, we only want a good, long, sound sleep, and this song is perfect for listening to in bed before falling asleep.